Donald McMillen's Letter to the Board of Trustees

To all of the Castilleja Board of Trustees; Joan Lonergan:

      I wish to express my puzzlement and subsequent outrage at the summary dismissal of Bear Capron from the Castilleja faculty. I myself am not connected directly to Castilleja School, but know Bear Capron as a friend and through my wife who has worked (as a musician and composer) closely with Mr. Capron for several extended periods over the last eight years.

      More broadly, my standing is simply that of a former member of the larger Palo Alto community, where for over thirty-some years I had come to think of Castilleja as not only a place where students could gain a fine academic grounding, but also a place where the principles of honesty and fair play were honored in practice as well as in theory.

      I write now not because I am certain Bear Capron is innocent, but because I am not even sure what he might be innocent (or guilty) of. He seems to have disappeared from the scene with no explanation, no response to concerned students - or to faculty or parents or alumni - or perhaps even to most of the Board members. One report has it that the school administration says Mr. Capron has not in fact been dismissed, but that he is merely on leave of absence. But it has become public knowledge that over the Veterans' Day holiday his office was stripped of all evidence of his more than twenty years of teaching at Castilleja. Thus the claim that he is simply "taking a leave of absence" is shown to be not merely dishonest, but also ludicrous. When this claim is coupled with the assertion that the school's official silence is actually to protect Mr. Capron, it almost seems that someone is plagiarizing from Kafka. It is quite clear that the official silence is to protect the school administration from what it has chosen - in a very abrupt and non-consultative way - to do. Although I have not seen the allegedly offensive film, it appears to me that the high-handed and secretive way the school administration has used to deprive Bear Capron not only of his current livelihood, but also of any hope of obtaining a similar teaching position elsewhere, is what may really deserve the status of "obscene" in this whole affair.

      I would suggest that rather than try to pave over what is clearly an imprudent and grossly unfair way of acting by the school administration, the Board should move to re-instate Mr. Capron - unless of course there was some real cause for dismissal - in which case the dismissal should be carried out in a manner consistent with the principles that Castilleja still wishes to claim it stands for. It seems up to the board to determine whether or not such a claim will from now on be seen as simply fraudulent.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my letter.

Dr. Donald F. McMillen

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